I've grown incredibly weary of the constant articles that have popped up all season belittling Ozzie and the White Sox for sending Juan Pierre up to bat first. It almost felt like it had became a sabermetric meme (though nothing even close to the beloved #6org). It felt like the equivalent of listening to sports radio and hearing that John Danks just doesn't know how to win games, or that the Minnesota Twins always beat us because they play the game the right way.
I will admit, Juan Pierre is not a great baseball player. At this point in his career, he is a 1-2.5 WAR player a season. My point though? He is a perfectly acceptable leadoff option. Juan Pierre does not hit the ball very far or hard. Would it be nice to get a slugging percentage higher than .327 out of your first hitter? Of course. But his primary job is to get on base. And with his .353 OBP this season, he has done exactly that. Once again, would it be nice if this was higher? Duh. But do you know what the league average OBP is from the leadoff spot this season? .332. That's right. Juan has actually been above average. Thanks in large part to Juan, the White Sox have a .346 OBP from the 1 spot. Guess how many teams have done better. Go ahead, the answer is waiting for you after the jump.
Four. A whopping four teams have had better luck getting on base than the White Sox when it comes to leadoff hitters. Unsurprisingly, those teams are the New York Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Seattle Mariners, and the Detroit Tigers. When you have Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki hitting first for the majority of your games, you should be in the top four for OBP. Austin Jackson's BABIP-fueled season has propelled the Tigers in, and Joe Maddon does a good job rotating in new guys when something isn't working. Here is a full chart for simplicity:
There are some particularly ugly numbers in there, especially Cleveland. It seems that most writers just took the easy way out when they decided to mock the Pale Hose's usage of Pods Noir. As I stated in my Boston preview, I'd like to see the Red Sox get taken to task for letting Marco Scutaro get so many at-bats at leadoff. I understand not mentioning the bottom four teams. Why pile on teams that can't make the playoffs? Did anyone really think the Orioles and the Indians could possible rank higher? No. But if they want to keep mentioning where Juan Pierre hits in the order as a reason for our offense's struggles (which is a weird thing to keep bringing up about the 6th offense in the American League), that is just plain lazy. There are seven other managers doing a worse job than Ozzie Guillen when it comes to this aspect of lineup creation. Go rail on them for a change.